Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Blunder Years

Part 3-6 Etiquette Mistakes Pop Mech Nov 1922The Book of Etiquette prevents a great many embarrassing blunders.

Too bad Zeppo here doesn't have a copy yet. For the sake of the poor anti-hero of this 1922 Book of Etiquette ad, let's just finish this up without further ado. Here are his latest mistakes:

1. Zeppo needs to wait a second when he is introduced to a girl. You can't just stick out your paw and yell "Glad to meetcha!" No sir. You have to wait for her to extend her hand first. And if anyone gets to yell out "Glad to meetcha!" - well, she does. But maybe now she won't.

2. If you get past all that and you're taking her out to dinner, you let her go in first. Now, this is pretty basic stuff. But Zeppo actually has to see another couple before he realizes his "humiliating blunder." I'm not sure that reading a book is going to help him, not unless the book can sit in his jacket pocket and stage-whisper things like "Hey, you chucklehead, stand back - you're supposed to let Millie go first!"

3. This last one is my favorite because it is so - mysterious. You see, if you insist on going to a dance but you can't dance, you are supposed to "do what [you] should, under the circumstances." What you should not be doing is holding up the wall like Zeppo and "making yourself conspicuous." But he doesn't seem all that conspicuous to me - everyone's ignoring him. I'll just bet it is "a most fascinating chapter." I really need to get a copy of this book. And when I do, I'm going to check out the chapter about dances first.*

Zeppo and his erring friend Alice are also blundering around in these posts:

Olives With A Fork
The Wrong Suit
Mrs. Snickerdoodle's Mistake

*NOTE: The Book of Etiquette (2 volumes, 1921) was written by none other than my pal Lillian Eichler, whose 1924 etiquette book I own and adore (in the 1947 edition, but still). And it is available over at Internet Archive, so I am going to go check it out and report back to you about the Mysteries of the Dance. Also, there are some other excellent ads for this book, which appears to have been the Gone With the Wind of good manners guides - there is one, for example, in which chicken salad is the culprit, with a charming photo illustration. All this ahead, mixed in with seasonal kitsch and retro!


Blondie said...

This is too cute! Kori xoxo

Pearl said...

This is why I come here: to learn.



Bill said...

Gee, it just makes me want to stay home alone with the covers pulled over my head. Congress with society is a minefield.

Lidian said...

Blondie - I think so too, it reminded me how much I love old etiquette books :)

Pearl - Oh, I learn too. I never knew that there were so many ways a person could screw up socially!

Bill - Me too. And I'll eat my olives with a fork too.

Bill said...

By the way, I'm reminded of how amused a friend & I were when we read an etiquette book in high school. The part that made us laugh concerned how we should respond when the front door was opened by the homeowner instead of a servant. In our neighborhood, we would have been much more startled if a butler or maid had answered our knock.
The suggested response, as I recall, was to remain unruffled and smoothly say "How do you do?"

Erica said...